Movie #47 2022: Candyman (2021)

Ah yes, yet another decent movie that was swallowed up by the pandemic. Unfortunately, Candyman is a film that would probably have been surrounded by a lot more attention and discussion if more people were able to see it. On a positive note, it did more than triple its budget in box office takings, but in more ‘normal’ times, it definitely would have made a ton more. The film’s star power alone would have been enough to draw audiences in, there’s no doubt.

Anyway, Candyman is defined by its creators as the ‘spiritual sequel’ to the 1992 horror thriller of the same name. Although the original cast do make small cameos, this movie is not about those characters, but instead is set in the same location. In fact, Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his partner Brianna (Teyonah Parris) have recently moved into the now-gentrified Cabrini Green, which is the setting of the first movie. Much like protagonist Helen in the original movie, Anthony uncovers the old legend of the Candyman and again, like Helen, he becomes increasingly obsessed with the myth when he realises that he is in much deeper than he first thought.

Candyman received rather mixed reviews upon release, and it feels like the people who slated this were expecting a run-of-the-mill bull shit jump scare trashy horror movie. According to Rotten Tomatoes, critical reviews were actually more positive, compared to your average movie fan, which is really quite telling… Clearly those people had pre-conceived ideas based on misleading trailers and never actually saw the 1992 version.

In truth, the Candyman story (or stories) was never a horror story or a ghost story, and it was always a narrative on racial inequality and the rich/poor divide. No, the message is not as subtle or thought-provoking as the one in producer Jordan Peele’s own horror movie Get Out, for example, but it’s definitely there and is mostly well-paced, consisting of more than just what’s on the surface. 

From a filmmaking perspective, Candyman is so modern and stylish in the way it is shot and arranged. In that respect, this movie is a huge step up from the mostly basic nature of its source material. The innovative use of shadow puppets is really creative and unique, and some of the framing was really artistic, perhaps to reflect the occupation of the main character. All in all, Nia DaCosta proves herself with this effort and there’s no doubt that she’s one to watch for the future. 

I have to say, the casting choices here were all outstanding. Abdul-Mateen was of course a perfect fit and Parris was perfect in her slight yet critical supporting role. The stand-out? The cameos of returning past characters! I can’t help it: I love that sort of shit. Mostly, I was absolutely buzzing to see Tony Todd; I suggest you do go back and watch the 1992 original otherwise these things will go right over your head. 

Overall, this is easily a better movie than the original Candyman. It is really evident that the reviews were mixed purely because it wasn’t what people were expecting. Anyway, I’m going to have to end this review before I say Candyman YET AGAIN, but for what it’s worth, this is a solid piece of work.

Candyman is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.

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